Corona virus: implications for German staff

The Corona virus raises many questions and uncertainties. What consequences does the COVID-19 have for your German staff? At EuroDev we are dealing with European HR matters every day. Every country has their own measures regarding the Corona virus. If you employ people in Germany, the information below might help you with managing your German staff.

*The information in the blog has the purpose to help the reader with gaining more knowledge and insights on the measures taken by the government. Please keep in mind that we have outlined basic rules. There might be specific terms, rules and regulations to each measure. As a result, EuroDev cannot guarantee any reimbursements or liabilities.  For more detailed information, please contact our experts.

Measures announced by the government

In order to contain the corona virus, the German Federal Government temporarily restricts cross-border traffic from France, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Denmark. Federal Minister Seehofer announced transportation of goods remains possible, and commuters can still enter the country.

Because Germany is a Federal Republic, each state can decide a lot for themselves. So it is crucial to distinguish between actions Germany is taking as a country, and measures taken by the 16 states. Some states are closing down restaurants, schools and day cares. To get tailored advice about the state you are active in, you can reach out to us.

More than two people are not allowed outside together - unless they are members of the same household.

This measure will last until the 19th of april. 

Short-time working

The "Act on Temporary Crisis-Related Improvement of the Regulations for Short-Time Working Benefits" provides for the following measures:

If orders are down due to difficult economic circumstances, a company can declare short-time work if at least 10 percent of the employees could be affected by the loss of work. It should be possible to waive the accumulation of negative working time balances in full or in part before payment of the short-time allowance. The applicable law requires that in companies where agreements on working time fluctuations are used, these are also used to avoid short-time work and are driven into the red. Temporary workers will also be able to receive short-time working compensation in the future.

The social security contributions which employers normally have to pay for their employees will in future be fully reimbursed by the Federal Employment Agency. This is intended to create an incentive to make greater use of periods of short-time work for the further training of employees.

For more details about the German short-time working measures, you can schedule a call with Monique Ramondt, VP of HR Outsourcing.

FAQ: Corona virus and Employment Law in Germany

1. An employee falls ill with corona virus or is quarantined. Who pays his/hers remuneration? 

  • Employees who are ill from the corona virus are generally entitled to continued remuneration from their employer. The employer may be entitled to claim compensation from the state under the Protection against Infection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz).
  • If a quarantine is ordered by the state, the employer must generally also continue to pay remuneration. If the employee actually works from home, the employer is not entitled to compensation from the state.
  • If the employee is quarantined and unable to work from home, he or she will in principle receive compensation from the employer in accordance with the Protection against Infection Act. Such compensation corresponds to the amount of the loss of earnings. The employer may then request recovery of compensation, paid by the government.

There are some additional criteria that determine who is paying remuneration in case of quarantines, but we recommend you reach out to get tailored advice for your situation.

2. How much money do employees receive as short-time workers?

Employees receive 60 percent of their net wages for the lost working hours if they have to work reduced hours. If you have to care for children, the short-time allowance is 67 percent of the net wage. 

Example: Those who would only work four days a week instead of the usual five days would continue to receive 80 percent of their wages from the employer. For the remaining 20 percent, employees would receive the compensation payment (60 percent of the daily wage) from the employment agency. This corresponds to 12 percent of the weekly wage (60 percent of the remaining 20 percent), so that he or she receives a total of 92 percent of the wage. If you have to care for children, the short-time allowance is 67 percent of the net wage. In the example, this would result in a total weekly wage of 93.4 percent. 

3. Is there any additional state aid for employers? 

A loss of working hours due to corona virus and/or the associated safety measures may result in a claim for compensation for reduced hours or reduced productivity from the government. Ultimately, businesses may reduce the working hours of their employees if there is a shortage of work due to the corona virus (e.g., delivery problems, lack of guests in the hospitality industry) if there is a basis for doing so in collective or individual agreements or if employees agree to this now; in such cases, employers may also be entitled to reduce employees’ pay. 

4. Must an employee report if he/she falls ill with the corona virus, or if there is a suspicion of corona virus infection in an employee’s environment? 

If an employee falls ill, he/she must report immediately to the employer that he/she is unfit for work (cf. Sec. 5 of the German Act on Continued Payment of Remuneration, Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz – EFZG). The reason for the illness need not be stated. However, it can be argued that, in view of the high risk of infection with the corona virus, employees may be obliged to report the highly infectious nature of their illness so that the employer can prepare appropriate protective measures. If a quarantine is ordered for an employee, the employee should also inform his/her employer immediately.

5. What are the financial obligations of the employer if the employee must stay home to care for his/her children due to closed school/daycare?
 
If school or daycare is closed as a precautionary measure, it’s the obligation of working parents to find alternate care for their children, as is the case when normal school or daycare concludes, or during strikes. As such, it can be useful to have in place home office agreements with employees. Where Sec. 616 BGB is not excluded by the employment contract, the employer will likely need to pay the normal salary to the employees for a “relatively insignificant period of time” in accordance with Sec. 616 BGB, this is generally assumed to be a period of 5-10 days. 

6. What obligations does the employer have towards his employees in light of corona virus?

7. What are the financial obligations of the employer if the employee must stay home to care for his sick child?

8. Do I have to let my employees work from home?  

9. Can holidays/annual leave be taken or ordered to avoid infection during operation? 

In addition to these questions, you might have questions specific to your case and company. If you are looking for answers, we are happy to help. Schedule a 15-minute call with Monique Ramondt, VP of HR Outsourcing by clicking the image below:

Schedule a call with Monique

About EuroDev

EuroDev, established in 1996 with offices in The Netherlands and France, has a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. We have created a proven, successful business development model and since our founding, have partnered with over 300 companies to help them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing and Digital Marketing. Additionally, EuroDev is home to 75 professionals from 24 nationalities, covering a total of 21 languages between them. 

Our latest blogs: